Solicitation for help: Scottish Gaelic

My wife and I sing in a professional choir, which is recording a CD this November. The CD will be of works by Granville Bantock, including a piece in Scottish Gaelic (from the “Songs of the Hebrides”). My wife is singing the solo for this piece.

For the choir parts, the score gives the words in Gaelic and a phonetic transliteration. Unfortunately, the solo is in Gaelic and English with no phonetic help. Neither my wife nor anyone else in the choir is an expert in Gaelic, so I was curious if there are any Dopers who can help out with a phonetic transcription of the solo verses.

I don’t know whether it’s best to do this in-thread or by PM, but either way, any help is appreciated.

I"m afraid I can’t help you, but if you go to the Bob Dunsire Piper Forums and post your inquiry in the “History, Tradition, Heritage” forum, I would think someone may be able to help you.

There are a few Dopers with Irish, which is very similar, so you may as well give it a go.

You could try a call here - the Cape Breton Gaelic Society. Little known fact - there are monolingual Gaelic communities in Canada, and Cape Breton is where some Scots come to do immersion.
Canadian Gaelic
Cape Breton Island
Anyway, fun though it would be to head up there in winter, you could give them a call and see if you can e-mail the text up and someone there can read it for you. They’ll be delighted to hear from you, I’m sure.

Somewhere in a box in the basement I have a “Teach Yourself Scots Gaelic” book, and it’s got a pronunciation guide. Darn useless when I actually travelled to the Highlands, but if I can find it, I’ll try to help out.

Aside: hi ruadh :slight_smile:

Well, I’ll take any help I can get. There are pronunciation guides online, but I was hoping that someone actually spoke Gaelic, since it seems to be a fairly complex language where pronunciation changes based on context.

Northern Piper, thanks. I’ll check that out.

I’m just not sure how similar they are. It’s a pity my dad is not still around he was well versed in both languages.

fachverwirrt, I’ll take a look if you want, I’m competent at Irish Gaelic so might be of some help. I can show the words to someone I know who is better versed at Irish, they might be of better help.

From reading the links you’ve posted I don’t think your little known fact could be true. From the first link.

"The oft-quoted statistic that “Scots Gaelic is spoken by more people in Cape Breton than in Scotland” is a fallacy. As of 2001 the official UK estimation is 58,652 Gaelic speakers; a figure possibly fifty times larger than the most optimistic Canadian statistic. "

On a CBC news item from a few years back, they interviewed some Scots who had come over to learn Gaelic here. According to that news item, the demand for Gaelic teachers in Scotland had (however temporarily) exceeded the available supply. The school, of which I provided a link, teaches by immersion, which contradicts the Wiki information stating there are no immersion schools.

While I accept that the ‘more Gaelic speakers in Cape Breton than Scotland’ is a modern legend, the CBC news item was what led me to search out that link to the school. I’ll continue to investigate whether any of the unilingual Gaelic villages still exist and get back to you when I find something concrete.

Well, similar enough that you can have one person in a conversation speaking Scottish Gaelic, and another person speaking Irish, and them mostly understanding each other. I’ve seen this.

As for Gaelic speaking communities on Cape Breton island I believe they do exist however I would require serious evidence to believe they are monolingual.

PS: Hi Duke :slight_smile:

A cursory glance at some online sources seems to suggest that they’re fairly similar.

Here are the first couple of lines. I’ve come up with a rough transcription of this, but I’d be interested to see what you can do with it:

Caidil a luaidh fo chobhair nan stuadh
Air bodha na suain 'sdo bhruadar ‘sa’ cheoban

I’m trying to cobble something together using online pronunciation guides, but I keep running into complications like the fact that some of the lenited consonants (the ones with Hs after them, basically) are sometimes silent in the middle and end of words. The problem is, I don’t know exactly when that applies.

Although I don’t know Scottish I can tell the meaning:
“Go to sleep early in the shelter of the gable,
in the peaceful hut while your dreams are [out] in the drizzle”

For comparison, in Irish it would look like:

Codail go luath fó scáth na stuaice,
Sa bhothán suaimhneach is do bhruadar sa cheobhrán.

So you can see the two languages are very similar and mutually comprehensible to native speakers.

Now, pronunciation. As I said, I don’t know Scottish. But an Irish person attempting to speak the Scottish lines would say something like:

kadjil a loo-ee fuh Covver* nan stoo-a
er bowa na soo-in stuh vrooder sa Cyoh-bon*

  • I’ve written the Scottish/Irish “ch” sound as a capital C since there is no convenient way of representing it.

Aside: dia dhuit, a ruadh!:wink:

This is pretty close. The main thing about ScGaelic is that it devoices medial consonants (but try not to aspirate them as in English: think the French [p] instead).

Kachil a loo-ee fuh khovver nan stoo-a
Er bowa na soo-in stuh vrooatar sa khyoh-pan.

Kydil a louie fo kowar non stewie
ar bo-ha na sooan sdo vroodar sa kyoban

was my frail attempt. An bhfuil Gaeilge agat, hibernicus? Tá beaganín agam.

Aside: dia daiobh, a Dr. Drake, hibernicus agus ruadh!

Well if all the paddys are taking a shot at it:

Caidil a luaidh fo chobhair nan stuadh
Air bodha na suain 'sdo bhruadar ‘sa’ cheoban

Kodjil a looy fuh khuvver nan stchoowah
Are boa na shoo-in sduh vrooadar sah kyawn

Where are you from Iteki?

(dia daoibh that should have been in my earlier post d’oh)

Ah, my location fell away. From Dublin, can you not tell by the atrocious pronunciation :wink:
Living in Scandyland though.

Wow. Thanks for all the help, guys.

I’m going to go verse by verse with my attempt at it; any insight/corrections would be loads of help.

The real problem is figuring out when some of these consonants are pronounced and when they’re silent.

Second verse:

Caidil a ghraidh
O caidil mu thràth
Is t’athair air bhàigh
Is fadal mo phoig air

“Kadjil a grai
O kadjil mu hra
Ish tahar ar vai
Ish fatal mo fok ar”

The “dj” sound I’m giving in “caidil” I understand is actually an unvoiced, unaspirated palatal “t”. That’s just my best approximation of the sound as I understand it. The “gh” at the beginning of “ghraidh” is a sound I’m getting hung up on a little. According to this site, it should be a voiced velar fricative (voiced “ch” or, alternatively, French R), but I’m not sure how that actually comes across in speech. Is it closer to a hard “g”, more like a “ch”, or is it really as described there?

I seem to remember that “gh” was supposed to be like the “ch” in German ich. Of course, I can’t find the book…are you sure you didn’t want to learn Catalan? I found that one!

It seems there are two ways to pronounce the “gh”; broad and slender. The broad is a voiced velar fricative (similar to the German “ach”, only voiced), and the slender is a voiced palatal fricative (similar to the German “ich”, only voiced). It looks like broad consonants occur before or after “a”, “o”, or “u”, and slender before “i” or “e”. I don’t know which applies before “r”.

And I’d love to learn Catalan, but right now I’m afraid it wouldn’t help much.